Does Anxiety Mean We Are Weak Minded?

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated March 27, 2021

anxiety disorder sufferers aren't weak minded

Are People Who Struggle With Anxiety Disorder Weak-Minded, Mentally Deficient, Or Less Intelligent?

Complete Question

Someone told me that people who struggle with anxiety disorder are generally weak-minded, mentally deficient, and less intelligent. This hurt me because I didn’t think of myself that way. He also said that if I didn’t get a ‘grip’ I wouldn’t amount to much? Is this true?

Answer:

The assertion that people who struggle with anxiety disorder are generally weak-minded, mentally deficient, and less intelligent is baseless, in my opinion. It’s our experience that anxiety disorder sufferers are generally strong, brave, creative, and intelligent.

In fact, there is research to support the idea that people who struggle with anxiety issues are generally highly intelligent with above average IQs.[1][2][3]

It’s also our experience that people who struggle with anxiety disorder come from all walks of life with many having accomplished a great deal in their lives even though they have struggled with anxiety disorder.

For example, we’ve had members and therapy clients that were researchers, software developers, graphic designers, philosophers, pastors, entrepreneurs, CEOs of large corporations, doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, behavioral scientists, philanthropists, actors, professional musicians, theoretical physicists, game/chess masters, professors, authors, journalists, engineers, and from every other profession.

As you can see, the notion that anxiety disorder sufferers are generally weak-minded and less intelligent is unfounded.

Many of us struggle with anxiety issues not because we are deficient in some way, but because we experienced adversity when growing up, such as abuse, rejection, trauma, over criticalness, over protection, and abandonment, to name a few.

Because of these early-life adversities, the system of beliefs and copying styles we learned have unhealthy components, which influence us to behave more anxiously than others.

Again, we struggle with anxiety disorder NOT because there is something wrong with us or because we are inferior in some way, but because we’ve adopted an overly anxious approach to life.

Identifying and successfully addressing the unhealthy components of our system of beliefs and copying styles, which we call the “underlying factors that cause issues with anxiety,” eliminates a struggle with problematic anxiety. Once these underlying factors are identified and successfully addressed, they stop creating issues with unhealthy anxiety.

So it’s not that we need a character or intellect transplant, but that we need to replace our unhealthy behaviors and coping styles with healthy behaviors and coping styles. All of us can do this with the right information, help, support, and effort.

With this in mind, if some people have the view that anxiety disorder sufferers are inferior in some way, we want to extend them grace and mercy because their comments are based on a lack of understanding of anxiety disorder and of those who struggle with it.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our Anxiety Articles page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Are People Who Struggle With Anxiety Disorder Weak-Minded, Mentally Deficient, Or Less Intelligent?

References

1. Coplan, Jeremy, et al. "The Relationship between Intelligence and Anxiety: An Association with Subcortical White Matter Metabolism." Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience, 1 Feb. 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3269637/#B5

2. Coplan, JD, et al. "Decreased choline and creatine concentrations in centrum semiovale in patients with generalized anxiety disorder: relationship to IQ and early trauma." Psychiatry Research, 30 June 2006, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16797939

3. McVicker, Daniela. “Recent Research Links Anxiety With Higher IQ Scores.” Psych Central, Psych Central.com, 8 July 2018, psychcentral.com/blog/recent-research-links-anxiety-with-higher-iq/.